This article was originally published at the Redbird Daily by Colin Garner, and is now proud to call the Cards Conclave home. Throughout July, we’ll be re-running all 30 Prospect articles as we lead up to Colin’s Mid-Season Prospect Update later in the month.
In Collaboration with Kyle Reis and Birds On The Black, Colin Garner presents you with The Cardinals Top 30 Prospects! Today, we have #18, Dylan Carlson.
18. Dylan Carlson – OF/1B
1st Round – 2016 Draft
Entering age-19 season
2017 wRC+: 101
What I Like
It’s so fitting that Dylan Carlson is our #18 prospect since his age is cause for so much of the optimism that surrounds him. Last season, while over three years younger than the average player in the Midwest League, Carlson was an above average hitter, at least according to wRC+ (101).
While another uber-young prospect from the 2016 draft was struggling with temperament issues in Johnson City, Carlson was grinding away in Peoria, a level too advanced for him. The numbers bear it out: in April, he hit .175, in May he improved to .213, then peaked in June when he hit .296 with a pair of homers. The importance of that improvement is a huge reason his 2017 was a success.
Though he profiles as a corner outfielder, I can’t help but be intrigued by the thought of him transitioning to first base. He’s left-handed, and if you’re athletic enough to see professional innings in center, you’re certainly athletic enough to play the same position as Matt Adams. Meanwhile, first base is a gaping hole in the organization that a prospect of Carlson’s caliber would alleviate.
His swing is simple yet contains the potential for plus power. A major hindrance is his proclivity to hit ground balls (his GB/FB ratio was nearly 1:1 last season), but that’s a small complaint considering how much younger he was compared to his competition. Coupled with his ability to get on base consistently, it’s hard not to love Carlson as a hitter even if his numbers look pedestrian at first glance.
What I Don’t Like
Easy: too many strikeouts. In 2016 and 2017 he struck out in over 25% of his plate appearances. That’s simply too many K’s, but again, he was playing against much older and advanced competition the entire time.
He didn’t hit for as much power as I would have liked, either. That’s a trend I don’t see continuing, however, as you can see flashes of potentially plus power.
Over the summer, I compared him to Christian Yelich. Now, that’s not a fair comparison (at all) for someone with tons of development left to do. I can’t shake it, though. Carlson certainly has the ability to hit .300 and the power is in there, somewhere, just waiting to be excavated. The club has been aggressive with his assignments so I see no reason they shouldn’t be aggressive again. We know the Florida State League is a terrible place to hit, so I would start Carlson at Double-A Springfield. Perhaps that’s a little selfishness on my part (I’d get to watch one of my favorite prospects in person), but I also think it’s the right move for Carlson.
Thanks for reading! As always thanks to Baseball Reference and Fangraphs for their statistics databases. Be sure to check out Kyle’s post tomorrow at Birds On The Black, and check out Prospect To Be Named Later for even more minor league content.